What to Know Before You Get A Rooster

A Rooster can be a very good thing to have in your flock for many reasons. However, there are some things about roosters that you should be aware of  before you consider one. In this article, I will include information on the benefits, as well as concerns, of having/caring for a rooster.

Important note: Roosters are illegal in certain neighborhoods. Check your local neighborhood ordinances first. You can read more about the legalization of Back-yard chickens at The Chicken Chick.🐥

A rooster has a specific job in the normal every day functioning and productivity of the flock. Since a rooster’s primary rolls revolve around his hens, those roles can either neatly coincide or cause conflict with people. This is largely why it is beneficial to know what a rooster will contribute to your flock beforehand. Being prepared and knowing what to expect may help prevent difficulty later on. 🐓

The Benefits of Having a Rooster in your Backyard Flock:

Roosters watch out for the hens and help keep them from danger.

When a roosters perceives a threat, he will make short, staccato clucking sounds that send the hens running for cover. If any of his flock does not get the message, he will round them up and take them to safety himself (sometimes at the expense of his own safety).

An adult Rooster may fight to the death for his flock. 🦅🐺🦉

Although even a big rooster may not seem very lethal, believe me… he can be! A rooster will often use his spurs, beak and even wings to bring harm upon threats. In spite of looks, he could injure or deter foxes, raccoons and even birds of prey away from his flock. However, not all roosters (particularly of certain breeds) have this instinct. That is because some breeds have been bred so far from the original chicken (jungle fowl), that they lack many of the instincts their ancestors had. Such breeds are often excellent for those who have no need for a flock protector and can’t afford getting a rooster that will turn on humans.

A Rooster Will Alert You When he Feels That his Flock is Threatened 🐓⁉

Roosters will often do this via crowing, cackling and generally raising a ruckus. This can be a massive help if there are animals in your area that would harm a chicken (given the chance). Believe me, he’ll let you know.

A Rooster can be a Source of Stability and Security for the Flock as a Whole and may Keep the Hens at Ease 🐣🍃🌸

Roosters like to keep the flock in seeing distance of themselves. They will often lead the flock to the best foraging area and watch to make sure none of the hens wander off to far. A good rooster will often ‘tidbit’ when hen finds something tasty to eat. ‘Tid-bitting’ is a self-sacrificial behavior that involves bringing hens whatever ‘yummies’ he finds or calling them over to take it from him. Good roosters usually do this regularly… no matter how tempting the morsels might be.

You Could Hatch Your Own Chicks 🐣🐥🐓

Though hens will lay just as much without a rooster, having a rooster will give you the capability to hatch your own eggs (if you have a broody hen or an artificial incubator). However, there is no guarantee that all of the eggs will be fertilized (hatch rate is somewhere around 72%, I believe). Some breeds (particularly breeds with unique features and/or lots of plumage on the rear) have more trouble fertilizing the eggs than others. Rumpless Araucanas are prone to this particular issue.

The Concerns of Having a Rooster in your Backyard Flock:

A Rooster Could Perceive You or Other Humans as a Threat 👩🏼‍🌾🐓⁉

This will cause him to display overly aggressive behavior towards people. Many cockerels (even some that are raised around people) can become aggressive once they reach adulthood. Since genetics play a big part in how territorial the rooster will be, you can’t really be certain if a he will be aggressive towards people or not until he has fully matured. If an aggressive rooster is a major concern for you, you can get an adult rooster that you have met and know to not be overly aggressive. Some breeds are also less territorial than others. Cochins, Amaraucanas, Crevecoeurs, Polishes, Welsummers and Orpingtons are good, generally docile breeds.

Roosters can be Choosy About Their Hens 🚫🐓

In the wild, chickens (called Jungle Fowl) survived by staying hidden and functioning together as a group. In flocks, they often leaned on each other for their own survival. Now, good roosters have a strong flock drive and will do anything in their ability to ensure that their flock has the best chance to surve (and thrive). To maintain a low profile in the undergrowth, some roosters would cull (remove from flock by force) brightly colored hens. Some roosters also culled any hens that did not cooperate or function harmoniously with the rest of the flock (in my case, a Crowing Hen).

Not all or even most roosters are color specific but I have had some that where. Additionally, you may not know if a rooster will permit certain colors in his flock or not until he reaches adulthood. Colors that are at the most risk are black and white/silver patterned (barred/silver-laced, spangled) and albino.

Contrary to Popular Myth, Roosters Crow more than just in the Morning hours 🐓☀

Particularly when young cockerels begin to crow, they may crow at odd times in the night until their schedule settles. Noise and commotion often trigger crowing so keep roosters away from main roads and bright lights at night. I go into more detail about crowing and how to minimize the frequency of crowing in the post on Why Roosters Crow: How to Help Minimize Crowing‘. 

A Rooster Can Cause Damage if he is Stressed ☹️🐓‼

If a flock of a dozen or less (this number largely depending on the chicken breeds and temperaments) and has multiple roosters, is threatened or kept near busy/loud/public areas, a rooster can get stressed. Stress can also be caused by over-crowding (for this reason, I advise allowing extra space for flocks with a rooster). Stress may cause a rooster to repeatedly mount his hens or overly express other forms of roosterly dominance. In opinion, I think that much of this stress related over-zealousness is the result of an attempt to secure his position in an unstable environment. At an extent, this behavior will further stress the flock, cause decreased egg production, skittish behavior and abrasions/feather loss on the hens.

Important Note: If you own a rooster, the hens that he is allowed with will experience some feather-thinning. This usually occurs on the saddle feathers (lower back) and hackle feathers (head). It is when the hens’ backs bald and/or become damaged that it becomes an issue. If abrasions are found on the hens’ backs, take note of the paragraph below and consider separating the injured hens until they are recovered. Since excessive saddle balding can also be the result of a rooster that is to big for the hens (or hens that are to small for the rooster… whichever way you choose to look at it), keeping chickens of like sizes together can help prevent saddle-balding in hens.

Roosters May Sometimes Need their Spurs Trimmed. 🐓⚠

In the wild, spurs are used to fight other roosters. They are also used for protection against various predators. Backyard roosters today do not use them nearly as much as their wild cousins. This is why spur trimming can be very important. The frequency that spurs need to be trimmed varies and some roosters never need spur-trimming. However, some need their spurs trimmed rather frequently to keep them at a reasonable length. Since the need for spur-trimming is not consistent bird-to-bird, I advise checking them from time-to-time. Keeping spurs in check can be highly beneficial to the whole flock. Overly long spurs can cause damage to the hens’ backs, cause stress and even injury.

Scrub, A Crevecoeur Cockerel

2 Replies to “What to Know Before You Get A Rooster”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *